Salon owners and stylists in the Wicker Park neighborhood said they are concerned and taking extra precautions after a serial hair salon robber struck blocks away from them, flashing a handgun and demanding cash.
A man who is suspected in at least four other salon robberies in Chicago and several more in surrounding suburbs stole about $250 in cash from a Great Clips salon in the 1200 block of a well-trafficked North Ashland Avenue around 10:45 a.m. Monday, police said.
“It’s scary,” said Dani McLaren, 25, a hairstylist at Kelly Cardenas Salon nearby in Wicker Park, her co-worker Taya Damman, 22, nodding in agreement.
At a news conference, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Monday’s incident fits the pattern of the bandit, who started his string of robberies in December.
“That’s obviously something that helps us, because we can get a clue from this one and a clue from that one and put them together and hopefully make the case,” he said. “Anytime anyone produces what appears to be a firearm, I have grave concerns about that.”
Skokie police said Monday night they were questioning a person of interest in the robberies.
Although no one was injured Monday, the man took out a blue-steel semi-automatic handgun before presenting a dark bag to three salon workers, which one of them filled with money, said Officer Daniel O’Brien, a Chicago police spokesman.
The robber has been described as a Hispanic man, standing about 6 feet tall and weighing about 200 pounds. The man, wearing a red and gray jacket, blue jeans and a hat and scarf, walked north on Ashland and hopped into a gray sedan, which left headed south, police said.
Salon director J.R. Costantini, 31, at the nearby Salon Blonde, said she thinks the robber might be targeting salons because there are typically not too many staffers and they are often women.
“It’s probably an easy target,” Costantini said.
Virginia Olenick, 33, co-owner of Strange Beauty Show, a salon just a block away from the Great Clips, said she thinks the robber would expect low resistance at a salon. She said she’ll probably start keeping the door locked during the day.
Costantini said that with a man targeting salons, she will be locking her door and considering an expensive buzzer system.
“Once in a while, people come in and ask for money,” Costantini said about people who occasionally enter to beg for change. “Usually it’s OK though.”
The corporate headquarters of Great Clips couldn’t be reached for comment, and staffers at the Great Clips location that was robbed declined.
Lorianne Trephibio, 19, who works nearby, said she passes the salon every day walking to work. Normally, she would have been walking past at the same time the salon was robbed. She left earlier than usual on Monday, passing the salon about 9:30 a.m.
“Just hearing about it and knowing that I live so close by, that’s just really scary,” Trephibio said. “I could have been here, and I would have had no idea what to do.”
Last Tuesday, a man robbed a Great Clips salon in the 1000 block of West Webster Avenue in the Sheffield Neighbors neighborhood, according to police. The man was given cash and fled the store, police said. Police think the same man may have held up a salon in the 1200 block of North Clybourn Avenue on Jan. 21 and salons in the 1200 and 1300 blocks of West Fullerton Avenue in December.
Other police agencies have warned that the same man may be responsible for robberies in Niles, Skokie, Morton Grove, Bensenville, Lombard and Glen Ellyn.
Follow Me On Twitter @SHOT97SUPREME